ISRAEL has texted civilians in Gaza warning them to flee south to Egypt as it prepares for an all-out ground assault to “crush” Hamas.
It follows another night of devastating air raids in the territory as the death toll of the bloody war rose to 3,000.
Israel’s army has massed tanks, artillery and thousands of elite commandos ready for a ground invasion.
It has also reportedly begun laying mines as it blockades the Gaza Strip, cutting off food, water and electricity.
Today military spokesman Richard Hecht said civilians should try to leave through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.
However, the army later issued a clarification saying the crossing was closed, meaning no one can go in or out.
The warning comes as Israel prepares to unleash its revenge with the first of 300,000 troops arriving on the border ready for a full-scale ground invasion.
In response to Hamas threatening to execute some of the around 150 civilian hostages, Israel hit back with relentless airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, pummelling the city with 600 warplanes and 300 rocket launches.
Fireballs repeatedly lit up Gaza City before dawn this morning as explosions sounded and sirens wailed.
Israel’s military said it has restored control full control over the border adding that it had recovered the bodies of around 1,500 Hamas fighters.
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Asked if Israel considered Hamas’ civil government, such as parliament and ministries, legitimate targets, Hecht said if there is a gunman firing rockets from there, it turns into a military target.
The country’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu dubbed Hamas as worse than ISIS in a damning speech where he vowed to destroy them.
Netanyahu raged: “Children were executed and entire families were exterminated by Arab Terrorists.
“There were atrocities that I will not describe here. Hamas is ISIS and we will destroy it as the world defeated ISIS.”
Israel has reportedly threatened Egypt with striking any lorry carrying aid to Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
Since violence erupted in the region on Saturday, the Red Crescent has delivered some medical aid to Gaza.
It comes as…
- Israel blitzed Gaza with more heavy airstrikes overnight
- The IDF mobilised 300,000 reservists for a full-scale ground invasion
- More than 3,000 have been confirmed dead in Israel and Gaza and thousands more injured
- PM Netanyahu dubbed Hamas “worse than ISIS” and said Israel will crush them with “a force like never before”
- The terrorists threatened to execute hostages and broadcast grisly footage
- Three British citizens have been confirmed dead, while seven other Britons are missing
The armed wing of Hamas on Monday announced it will begin executing one Israeli captive and broadcast footage for every civilian house bombed in Gaza without warning.
A spokesperson for Hamas’ armed wing, Qassam Brigades, blamed their barbaric escalation on Israel’s air strikes in Gaza City.
In a chilling threat, they also vowed to “urgently broadcast with audio and video” the brutal ISIS-style killings of Israeli civilian captives should Israel continue to hit out.
Meanwhile, parents have been urged to immediately remove apps like TikTok and Instagram from their children’s phones’ amid fears that Hamas is planning to release disturbing hostage and execution videos.
Israeli school parents association have reportedly sent a message to parents to make sure their children won’t accidentally watch any graphic content shared by Hamas.
Netanyahu vowed Israel would launch a revenge attack on Hamas “like never before”.
He said on Monday evening: “We have not seen such atrocities from ISIS.
“At the end of the war, all our enemies will know it was a terrible mistake to attack Israel.”
The PM added: “What we will do to our enemy over the next few days will echo for generations. Any place from which Hamas operates will turn into rubble.”
A senior Israeli military official confirmed that at least 150 Israelis were taken hostage by Hamas militants during their multi-pronged attack, according to the New York Times.
And three Brits have been confirmed dead in Israel while seven more remain missing.
Scot Bernard Cowan, 57, was murdered by the terrorist group during the horror attacks on Sunday.
Corporal Nathanel Young, 20, who was serving in the Israeli Defence Forces, was confirmed dead on Saturday.
And Daniel Darlington, a UK photographer, was also killed after attending the musical festival that Hamas stormed.
Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) is gathering 173,000 troops including 8,000 elite commandos, along with 300 tanks, artillery pieces and rocket launchers in border town Sderot.
A further 300,000 reserve troops have been readied in an unprecedented move and sent south ahead of the planned invasion.
On Monday morning, Israel imposed a “complete siege” on the area – including a sweeping ban on food and fuel moving into Gaza and an immediate cut-off of the water supply.
“There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed,” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said.
“We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly.”
The US is also moving several warships – including USS Gerald Ford – and aircraft to the Mediterranean after Joe Biden pledged Washington’s “rock solid” support to Tel Aviv.
The US government confirmed 11 Americans have also been killed in Israel.
Hamas terrorists launched an all-out attack on Israel from land, air and sea with 5,000 rockets fired during the early hours of Saturday morning.
It was the deadliest assault in the country’s 75-year history and has sparked days of bloody strikes and assaults.
Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, said in a chilling statement: “Not since the Holocaust have so many Jews been killed in one day.”
Rishi Sunak called an urgent COBRA meeting on Monday following the brutal attacks.
The British prime minister said the “barbaric acts” committed by Hamas were “evil”.
“There is no other word to describe what we have have seen,” he said.
“Teenagers at a festival of peace gunned down in cold blood. Innocent men, women and children abducted, raped, slaughtered.
“Even a Holocaust survivor taken away as a captive. And much of the sickening evidence posted online.
“There are not two sides to these events. There is no question of balance. I stand with Israel.
“We stand with Israel, the United Kingdom stands with Israel against this terrorism today, tomorrow and always.”
PM Netanyahu said: “Israel is at war. We didn’t want this war. It was forced upon us in the most brutal and savage way. But though Israel didn’t start this war, Israel will finish it.
“We will exact a price that will be remembered by them and Israel’s other enemies for decades to come.
“Hamas terrorists bound, burned and executed children. They are savages. Hamas is ISIS.”
One-eyed Hamas terror boss Mohammed Deif masterminded the carefully planned and deadly assault on Israel.
The wheelchair-bound 58-year-old has survived five assassination attempts that killed his wife and two children.
Deif ordered the militants to use explosives and bulldozers to break through the fences surrounding Gaza.
And Hamas insiders claimed that Iran helped them plot the brutal attack.
Militants from Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia that runs much of Lebanon and has often clashed with Israel, also said Iran helped plot the slaughter.
The Hamas and Hezbollah insiders said the attacks were aimed at disrupting US-brokered talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia to establish normal diplomatic relations.
Israel also came under attack on Sunday when Lebanon’s Hezbollah launched missiles “in solidarity” with Hamas.
The IDF responded by firing artillery back and said it killed a “number of armed suspects” who entered Israel from Lebanon.
Iran has for many years tried to build influence in countries around Israel by funnelling cash and weapons to the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria’s Assad regime.
Meanwhile, Kyiv claimed Nato weapons gathered as war spoils from fallen Ukrainian troops were shipped to Hamas militants to use in the Israeli onslaught.
IDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said some 1,000 Palestinian militants took part in Hamas’s attack on Saturday – which he called “by far the worst day in Israeli history”.
“Never before have so many Israelis been killed by one single thing, let alone enemy activity in one day,” he said.
He likened it to “a 9/11 and a Pearl Harbour wrapped into one”.
Dr Nimrod Goren, senior fellow for Israeli affairs at the Middle East Institute, told The Sun: “This is not a short thing, and it will not be over very quickly.
“It’s evident that the first goal of Israel is to push Hamas out of its territory. And whenever there are still Hamas people inside Israeli towns then the effort is to clean [them] out.
“The Israeli government [will] want to cast a large price and toll from Hamas.
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“Whether or not a ground offensive will happen – it’s a big question.”
Israel’s response to the unexpected attack by Palestinian gunmen from the Gaza Strip will “change the Middle East,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.